On Thursday, the University of California board of regents voted unanimously, 23-0, to jettison using SAT and ACT college admissions exams for a guide to college admissions to the UC system, which received more than 176,000 freshmen applications last year, as The Wall Street Journal reported.
That vote ratified a proposal from UC President Janet Napolitano, who had issued a 2018 letter in which she stated:
This seems like a good opportunity to review the role of admissions in UC eligibility and admissions, something I understand the Board on Admissions and Relations with Schools (BOARS) does periodically but may not have done since 2010.
I request, therefore, that the Academic Senate, through BOARS, examine the academic use of standardized tests for UC admission; review the testing principles developed in 2002 and revised in 2010; and determine whether any changes in admission testing policies or practices are necessary to ensure the university continues to use standardized tests in an appropriate way.
In a letter to the Board of Regents for their meeting on Thursday, Napolitano wrote:
In this action item, the President of the University recommends that the Regents approve a suspension of the current standardized test (ACT/SAT) requirement for undergraduate admissions until 2024 to allow the University to modify or create a new test that better aligns with the content UC expects applicants to have learned and with UC’s values.
If UC is unable to either modify or create a test that can be available for fall 2025 freshman applicants from California high schools, the President recommends that UC eliminate altogether its standardized testing requirement for admissions for California students.
The Journal noted, “More than 1,000 colleges and universities have gone “test optional,” with the pace of schools dropping the exam accelerating in recent years in an attempt to level the admissions playing field.”
A spokesman for the College Board, which owns the SAT, said the organization’s “mission remains the same: to give all students, and especially low-income and first-generation students, opportunities to show their strength. We must also address the disparities in coursework and classrooms that the evidence shows most drive inequity in California.”
Last December, a high-school sophomore, two seniors, and a first-year student at Pasadena City College sued the University of California, claiming the ACT and SAT discriminated against racial and ethnic minorities and poorer students; their lawsuit alleged, “These discriminatory tests irreparably taint UC’s ostensibly ‘holistic’ admissions process,’ adding that the tests ‘act as a proxy for wealth and race and thus concentrate privilege on UC campuses.’”
A spokesman for the College Board responded, “The notion that the SAT is discriminatory is false. Any objective measure of student achievement will shine a light on inequalities in our education system. Our focus, with our members and partners, is combating these longstanding inequalities.”
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